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"Please pay me to swim in this open sewer" - Elon Musk. Genius.
It doesn’t seem that many people are excited to pay Elon Musk for the privilege of using Twitter. To judge from the shit-posting billionaire’s tweets since paying US$44b to buy the platform, this appears to have come as a surprise and may even suggest a possible flaw within his original business plan. Quite an achievement, since if there was a business plan, it consisted entirely of paying $44 billion for an open sewer – then adding Nazis.
Taking over Twitter appears to have become Elon Musk’s very own special military operation in Ukraine. It seemed like a good idea at the time, especially among extremely online far-right wingnuts, but his air force has been shot out of the sky, his flagship sunk, and now strangers on the internet are tweeting mean things about him.
Weirdly enough, if he was willing to offer a service that didn’t come preloaded with Nazis, porn and textual harassment, millions of people might well consider kicking in a couple of bucks a month to be able to share their thoughts on sandwiches and pictures of their dogs with those in need such things.
Unfortunately, Musk seems incapable of separating his new role as the sole owner of a forty-four billion dollar mistake with his preferred wank fantasy of being a superhero edge lord.
Things move quickly online, but even in the hyper-accelerated spacetime of Twitter, it was a helluva speed run from Musk’s promise to advertisers that he wouldn’t create a free-for-all hellscape, to the free-for-all hellscape he created by tweeting out a batshit insane gay-lovers-tiff conspiracy theory about the guy who tried to murder Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer.
Advertisers who already had little reason to spend their marketing bucks on the bird site were pulling their ad buys before Musk pulled his tweet. But of course, deleting the stupid tweet only served to enrage all of the batshit insane conspiracy theorists and Nazi-curious incel types who’d flooded back to the site after Musk took over.
He needs those advertisers.
The interest on the company’s debt now rises to more than a billion dollars per annum, but Twitter cleared just over half of that amount last financial year. With Stephen King refusing to kick in, Musk can’t afford to drive away advertisers while he plays at free speech warrior.
It gets worse, of course, because everything does.
The billion-plus in interest, which Twitter totally cannot afford to pay, is just the start of Musk’s money problems. Even if he sacks half the staff, as seems likely in the next twenty-four hours…
He still has to make payroll for the rest, rent on the corporate offices, and whatever other expenses are involved in running a globally distributed communications platform.
Good luck with that, genius.
The hell of it is he could turn the company around. He could even charge users to run their accounts. All of the users, too, not just the Blue Check elite.
If he was willing to piss off his fanboys and aggressively moderate the site so that most people felt safe and welcome there, knowing that they weren’t going to be harassed or attacked by… well, to be honest about it, by fuckwits like Musk, he could probably charge everyone five bucks a month. If he was willing to suppress bots and trolls and disinformation, Twitter could become what it initially promised to be, a town square for the digital age.
But that’s not possible if you really want a free-for-all and a hellscape because, for whatever fucked up reason, that appeals to your edge lord sensibilities.